Merkel's crisis is Cameron's opportunity

The EU is going to have to change significantly whatever happens to Britain – and Britain should take advantage

27 June 2015

9:00 AM

27 June 2015

9:00 AM

For generations, ambitious politicians have dreamed about having the power to run Europe — but as Angela Merkel can attest, it’s a horrible job. She didn’t want to end up with the continent’s problems on her shoulders, but things have ended up that way. The Greek economic implosion, the seemingly unstoppable wave of immigrants from north Africa, the menace of Russian aggression, the euro crisis — all the multiple, interconnected, crises battering Europe have ended up as Merkel’s problem. The Queen will no doubt leave Germany this week thinking what every other leader in Europe does after a meeting with Frau Merkel: rather you than me.

The Queen’s visit has been conveniently scheduled for just before the European Council, at which Cameron will outline his renegotiation. Wednesday’s state banquet in Berlin has long been in Number 10’s diary as providing Cameron with a last-minute opportunity to lobby Merkel with no other EU leaders present. This was once envisaged as a major headache for Merkel; now, it looks like it will be the least of her problems.

The situation in the Mediterranean gets more desperate with each passing week. Some 100,000 migrants have arrived in Europe this year and there is no end in sight to the number who will head to the continent. Concern about them undermines confidence in the whole EU project — which Mrs Merkel seems to hold as dear to her heart as the fate of Germany. The EU leaders are doing more and have ordered their navies to start picking up these migrants. But by doing so, they are encouraging more people to take the risk of heading to sea in an attempt to reach Europe.

There is no sign of the pace of this movement of peoples slowing. In the next few years, unless something dramatic is done, millions will attempt to cross into Europe from north and central Africa. The countries at the receiving end of this great migration — Italy and Greece — are buckling under the pressure.

It is worth remembering that the crisis that Thursday’s European summit was meant to be addressing was the one prompted by Russian revanchism. Since annexing Crimea just over a year ago, Vladimir Putin has continued with his belligerent foreign policy. Russia continues to destabilise the Ukraine, menace the Baltic states and support those who can roil the western order.

These crises are all interlinked, as Merkel knows only too well. If Greece was jettisoned from the single currency, it could fall into Russia’s orbit. The migrant crisis is contributing to the rise of populist, anti-immigration parties across northern Europe, all of which have no interest in sending money south to bail out the more profligate eurozone states.

Merkel is an instinctively cautious politician. One of the ways in which she has accumulated so much political capital is simply by not spending very much. But it is almost impossible to see how she can come up with solutions to these problems that don’t cost her at home or abroad. Pick up the German tabloids and you soon see that it would be a brave, almost suicidal, politician who would send more money to Greece or offer to take in large numbers of Mediterranean migrants. But without Germany being prepared to shoulder more of the burden, the European project could fail.

Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, with all of its travel restrictions, is a fundamental believer in the principle of the freedom of movement. Under pressure from her, Cameron has dropped any challenge to it from his renegotiation. But in this era of mass migration it is hard to see how the principle can be sustained. The French have already reacted to the situation in the Mediterranean by reinstating controls on their border with Italy, despite both countries being part of the Schengen Agreement. Elections in Denmark last week gave the balance of power to the Danish People’s Party, which made clear during the campaign that it would not accept any attempt to disperse these Mediterranean migrants across the EU. But given how close Italy is to breaking point, as Nicholas Farrell detailed in last week’s Spectator, Rome desperately needs the EU to help.

If Europe won’t help, the Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, will follow through on the threat first made by Silvio Berlusconi and simply start issuing migrants with travel documents allowing them to go anywhere in the Schengen Area. One can easily imagine how Bild would react. The Schengen system could collapse very rapidly as governments across northern Europe scramble to fend off the populist challenge; it is worth remembering that there are elections in France and Germany in 2017. If Schengen went, the idea of free movement within Europe would be next.

Although some find the thought distasteful, Europe’s difficulty is Britain’s opportunity during this renegotiation. The measures that will have to be taken to address both the Greek crisis and the Mediterranean emergency offer the possibility of a very different EU — one in which Britain would be far more comfortable.

Yet Cameron is rushing to reach an agreement. He needs to hold the EU referendum before the end of 2017, but he wants everything wrapped up long before then; technical talks will start after this week’s summit. Given the seismic nature of what is happening in Europe right now, it is foolish to try to strike a deal so quickly. Time is on reform’s side and a better offer may well be available in a year’s time.

Another reason for slowing down is that the No campaign may well be a more formidable adversary than Downing Street had expected. The man co-ordinating the No side, Dominic Cummings — who ran the campaign against Britain joining the euro — has already floated the idea of committing to two referendums. The first vote would be on Cameron’s renegotiated deal and the second on the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU. Such an approach would make voting No in the first referendum feel far less risky.

Cameron has to secure a new form of EU membership for Britain. Then he must win the referendum and prevent the Tory party from splitting over the issue. Time might be an even more valuable ally to him in securing these objectives than Merkel.


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  • misomiso

    There is a HUGE play for Cameron here.

    If he could set out a new vision for Europe, with some BIG and REAL changes in the fundamental EU Architecture, then he might be able convince the euroscpetics in the Cabinet to delay the referendum till 2018, after the French and German elections.

    If his vision was credible, then it would incite European debate in the Union’s two biggest countries, and if there was consensus in France on bringing power’s back full treaty change would be inevitable.

    And because of this he can really go for the heart of the matter. The problem with the current suggestions that the government is working on from Open Europe is that they are all predicated on not taking on the Eurocracy or going for major treaty change, as they know how viciously the bureaucracy will fight to keep its power.

    But if the Union’s three biggest countries all want change, then Cameron can go for ‘everything.’ He can go for the EU to have less Competencies, he can get Justice and Fisheries back (very difficult for the Scots Nats), and he can go for fair representation in the European Parliament and ECJ Judges to be appointed on merit, and can cut the EU budget ‘drastically’.

    But of course if he failed, he would have to accept an exit and a separate ‘associated membership’ deal with the EU.

    • Muttley

      Nice thought, but Cameron is not the man for the job. It needs a brighter, surer politician whose heart is really in achieving reform. Basically he is not a man of any vision or political skill. He is a PR man, and not always very good at that.

  • Terence Hale

    “Merkel’s crisis is Cameron’s opportunity”. The high degree of labour unrest comes transformed and enhanced. Unusual for Germany.

  • jim

    Articles like this are just so much smoke in a bottle. There are measures that could be taken to deal with all these issues.The migrants can be turned back at sea to their port of departure. The west could forget about expanding up to Russia’s border and indeed forget about expanding at all. Just allow countries like the Ukraine to profit from being bufferneutral states ,like Switzerland.As for the economic disaster,too late to do anything about that since they shifted the bondholders debts onto the taxpayers. Still,they could stop pimping the banking union scam, rewrite the accounting rules which make it legal for banks to hide losses and generally put manners on the scumbag financiers. But these solutions are not acceptable to europimps since they are fanatically wed to the idea of pan-european multi culti superstate run for the convenience of a corporatefinancial elite and they will not compromise. In fact it was the revolting Jean Claude Trichet who helped write the very accounting rules which made it legal for the banks to rig the figures which is how we all got into this mess in the first place.
    So you see nothing will change because these vermin like things just as they are…and if they don’t,well,it’s too late now anyway.Britain must leave the EU.It’s possible the whole jerry built enterprise could fall to bits before the referendum anyway.

    • global city

      Spot on. The worst thing about the EU and our involvement in it is that we have been sucked into those perennial land obsessions they have always had on the continent.

      “You are either at the banquet or on the menu” about sums up their attitude…which rather reminded me of those old political cartoons.

    • milford

      Let’s hope so 🙂 Full English anyone?

  • Hermine Funkington-Rumpelstilz

    Europe has always “changed significantly”, at least within my lifetime. Why this should change or be undesirable is beyond even the truly confused minds.

    • davidofkent

      Yes, I think you are confused. Aren’t we all?

  • pobinr

    Cameron has no more intention of leaving the EU than he has of ordering a lock-down on the border with Calais. Make no mistake, because of Cameron’s and this Governments weakness, sooner or later, ”Every Single Immigrant” that you see on your TV screens in Calais will be in this country and claiming benefits. And who are they ??? …. No-one has a clue … albeit from thieves, rapists, murderers to terrorists they’re all coming …. Why? …… Because our Government encourages them to, by our continued display of weakness!

    And may the Gods grant us all but one single wish: ”That they all go to London” and sleep outside Westminster and the homes of the elite and urinate and defecate in London’s parks and tourist spots. For perhaps then these politicians will get off their backsides and see ”what a sewer our country is being turned into”, like the rest of us are seeing up and down the country every day, by this on-going display of pandering to Europe, immigrants and the PC brigade!

    Damn these politicians for their betrayal of this country and their own countrymen!

  • davidofkent

    David Cameron is indeed rushing to get some agreement. However, we know that ‘this paper I hold in my hand bearing Frau Merkel’s signature…’ will not mean ‘peace in our time’. It didn’t last time and it won’t the next. The EU will promise David Cameron whatever he wishes with a treaty to be re-drawn later. The ‘later’ part will never come. Once we have been fooled into agreeing to stay in the EU, the ‘piece of paper in my hand bearing …’ will be forgotten and no treaty change will ever be mentioned again.

  • How did a Stasi agent and a Marxist-Leninist propagandist when a member of the Free German Youth…


    …become Chancellor of Germany? This is how…

    The following is a discovery I made only last month regarding the fake collapse of the USSR, and what that fraudulent collapse proves about the institutions of the West…

    When Soviet citizens were liberated from 74 years of Marxist horror on December 26, 1991 there were ZERO celebrations throughout the USSR, proving (1) the “collapse” of the USSR is a strategic ruse; and (2) the political parties of the West were already co-opted by Marxists,* otherwise the USSR (and East Bloc nations) couldn’t have gotten away with the ruse.

    ZERO celebrations, as the The Atlantic article inadvertently informs us…


    For more on this discovery see my blog…



    The West will form new political parties where candidates are vetted for Marxist ideology, the use of the polygraph to be an important tool for such vetting. Then the West can finally liberate the globe of vanguard Communism.


    * The failed socialist inspired and controlled pan-European revolutions that swept the continent in 1848(1) thought Marxists and socialists a powerful lesson, that lesson being they couldn’t win overtly,(2) so they adopted the tactic of infiltration of the West’s political parties/institutions. In the case of the United States…(continue reading at DNotice)…


    Now you know why not one political party in the West requested verification of the collapse of the USSR, and the media failed to alert your attention to this fact, including the “alternative” media. When determining whether the “former” USSR is complying with arms control treaties, what does the United States do to confirm compliance? Right, the United States sends into the “former” USSR investigative teams to VERIFY compliance, yet when it’s the fate of the West that’s at stake should the collapse of the USSR be a ruse, what does the United States do to confirm the collapse? Nothing!

    The fraudulent “collapse” of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Marxists, which explains why verification of the “collapse” was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”.

    It gets worse–the “freed” Soviets and West also never (1) de-Communized the Soviet Armed Forces of its Communist Party officer corps, which was 90% officered by Communist Party members; and (2) arrested/de-mobilized the 6-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Union’s Ministry of the Interior and police control the populations of the larger cities during the period of “Perestroika” (1986-1991)!

    There can be no collapse of the USSR (or East Bloc nations) without…

    Verification, De-Communization and De-mobilization.

    The West never verified the collapse of the USSR because no collapse occurred, since if a real collapse had occurred the West would have verified it, since the survival of the West depends on verification. Conversely, this proves that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR, since the survival of the West depends on verification.

    The above means that the so-called “War on Terror” is an operation being carried out by the Marxist co-opted governments of the West in alliance with the USSR and other Communist nations, the purpose being to (1) destroy the prominence of the West in the eyes of the world, where the West is seen (i) invading nations without cause; (ii) causing chaos around the globe; and (iii) killing over one-million civilians and boasting of torture; (2) close off non-Russian supplies of oil for export, thereby increasing the price of oil, the higher price allowing oil exporting Russia to maintain economic stability while she modernizes and increases her military forces; (3) destroy the United States Armed Forces via the never-ending “War on Terror”; the ultimate purpose of the aforementioned to (4) bring about the demise of the United States in the world, opening up a political void to be filled by a new pan-national entity composed of Europe and Russia (replacing the European Union), a union “From the Atlantic to Vladivostok”; which will (5) see the end of NATO.

    Now you know how Bolshevik Russia survived in 1917; how the West “lost” China to the Communists in 1949; why the Eisenhower administration turned a deaf ear to the anti-Communist Hungarian uprising in 1956; why the Eisenhower administration in 1959 was indifferent to the Castro brothers’ Communist fidelity, actually used the CIA to overthrow the Batista government; why the Nixon administration abandoned Taiwan for Communist China, and signed treaties/provided economic aid to the USSR; why the Nixon administration refused to tell the American People that over 50% of North Vietnamese NVA regiments were actually Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers (attired in NVA uniforms, and proving that the Sino/Soviet Split was a ruse, as KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn told the West back in 1962), thereby (1) ensuring the Vietnam War would be lost; (2) destroying the prominence of the United States abroad and at home; (3) breeding distrust between the American people and their government; and (4) securing Communist victories in Southeast Asia. Working in the background within the political parties of the United States and Great Britain were Marxist agents doing their best to (1) ensure the survival of Communist nations when they popped up; and (2) sabotage any policies that would bring down a Communist nation. That’s why after the fake collapses of the East Bloc nations and USSR there was no mandatory Western verification process to ensure the Communists weren’t still in control.

  • mickey667

    This is just the wishful nonsense of a misanthrope.

    Pure fantasy. 3 minutes of my life i’m not getting back.

  • The Tory party will split because once Vichy Dave comes back with nothing and then fervently campaigns for nothing to change, even the most staunch supporter will be forced to admit the truth.

  • JabbaTheCat

    Trying, and failing, to remember when Forsyth was right about anything…

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